Biomutant is clearly a very ambitious game. Despite its many, many flaws, I really enjoyed my time with it.
Posted by Nate on 12 June 2021 at 8:37AM
Biomutant is a very peculiar game. It has so many faults; essentially no story, an incredibly irritating narrator, combat that lacks impact, a horrible depth-of-field effect, and repetitive mission design, to name a few, but yet, I came out of it having really enjoyed my time with it.
I'll try to explain the story, though it won't take long. Set after the human apocalypse, you play as an orphaned creature whose village was destroyed by a monster. There are also four World-eaters that are threatening the tree of life, and therefore, the whole of the planet. It never really expands on that effectively. There are flashbacks to your youth which attempt to give you some exposition, but they aren't interesting.
I played Biomutant from the day it released, but there was a hefty patch about a week later which did improve many elements from the game. The only English dialogue in the game comes from the narrator. While the voice actor did a good job, the script and the sheer frequency in which your gameplay is interrupted by a comment you've heard ten times already fast becomes an annoyance. There is now an option to prevent this, though there wasn't for the bulk of my play through. Combat is simplistic and with little impact. It just didn't feel like your hitting anything. While this is slightly better now, there is still improvement to be made.
The main bulk of the story missions are outpost takeovers. If you've played any Ubisoft game in the last ten years, you'll know exactly what this entails. You are tasked with aligning yourself with a group early on, and from then on, you need to conquer the others. These comprise of three smaller outposts and then the main one. There are so many to do, and I think the game knows this. After completing two sets of these, choosing the 'light' conclusion, I got an option to accept the surrender of all remaining outposts. I could not press yes quickly enough.
There is a light and dark mechanic, which doesn't make an awful lot of sense. These are represented with two creatures resembling Ori from Ori and the Blind Forest, giving you two options on how to proceed in certain scenarios. I went almost exclusively light in my play through, though it seems that the only impact it has is what Psi-powers you can unlock. This in itself is meaningless, as you can level both light and dark sides to the maximum and unlock them all if you play long enough.
The characters aren't interesting or written well, and it feels like a slog getting through a conversation. The characters speak in a fictional language, and you have to wait for them to stop for the narrator to translate what they are saying to you. This makes every conversation twice as long as they need to be. Ultimately, once realising that nothing that anyone said was of any real importance, I ended up skipping most of the dialogue.
So, why did I enjoy Biomutant so much despite its many, many drawbacks? There are a handful of things the game does extremely well.
Firstly, the open world is gorgeous. It's a spectacle to behold as you travel through it and it never gets old. It was so much fun to travel to the various areas and discover the secrets hidden around the world. The biomes are varied, from open fields, dense forest, abandoned towns, among others. There is nothing new here in that regard, but I feel the landscape was built so well. Traversing the world is also fun. There are land and water mounts, a glider, and a generous sprint. It's a very nice looking game. All the screenshots in this article were taken with the photo mode without applying a filter.
You are constantly rewarded for your exploration. There is loot everywhere. Whether you're exploring the abandoned towns, deconstructing one of the many resource towers scattered across the land, fighting enemies, you get loot. The crafting system is really interesting. You collect parts of weapons on your travels, and you can put them together as you wish. I prefer large, two-handed weapons, and attached an enormous buster sword-style blade to a tiny, tiny grip. The game doesn't restrict you in this way, and I applaud it for that. It looked extremely silly, but I really liked it. There are different types of melee weapons, but you also have a ranged weapon, most frequently a gun. The range weapon is a helpful addition to the fighting, but I just wish the game had a lock-on mechanic.
Biomutant is clearly a very ambitious game, and it would probably have benefited from the removal of several mechanics in order to focus on fine-tuning others. Some mechanics I haven't yet mentioned are: a mech suit, a submarine section, mini-game puzzles which can only be called puzzles in the loosest sense, the many different upgradable abilities and techniques, a lot of different type of collectables, four different poisonous biomes that you cannot survive in without upgrades or gear. These all form small parts of the game that clearly show the developers had so many ideas and wanted to incorporate them all, with varied success.
I found Biomutant to be a really enjoyable time. Early on in the game, I got a quest marker for something right on the other side of the map to me. I decided that I would try and make it by foot, ignoring my story missions. I made it a good distance, but there were so many distractions and things to discover along the way. It reminded me of RPGs from about ten years ago, where you were just free to explore the world and carve out your unique story through your actions. These are the memories that stay with me after playing this game. The joy of discovery, finding my first mount, crafting my first great set of weapons and clothing, and just seeing the sights, without any prompting from the game to do so.
- Gorgeous world that is fun to discover and traverse
- Crafting mechanic works really well
- Gives the player freedom to explore at their own pace
- Uninteresting story that is never expanded
- Combat that lacks impact
- Many mechanics just don't feel fine-tuned.